Aaron Rodgers has established himself over the past few seasons as a top three NFL quarterback. Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady, at any given moment could make the strong argument as being the top signal caller in the league. Fresh off his first Super Bowl win as a pro, Rodgers has put himself in a position to stake a claim as one of the game’s all-time greats. However, in a couple shorts months, Rodgers will not be the most talked about Green Bay Packers quarterback. Perhaps lost in all the NFL playoff jubilation this past week is the fact that Rodgers’ backup, Matt Flynn, will become an unrestricted agent this off-season. The former LSU National Championship winning quarterback has looked impressive in his limited action as a professional.
The NFL is unquestionably a quarterback driven league. Let’s not forget that we live in a world where Kevin Kolb gets handed a 5-year, $63 million contract only to be replaced by John Skelton weeks later. With Matt Barkley staying in school, Flynn will become one of the most highly coveted quarterbacks available this off-season, along with Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.
While 12 teams still have hope that they will lift the Lombardi Trophy in February, the other 20 are left evaluating their personnel. Last year was an oddity, with free agency taking place after the NFL draft, but the NFL draft is usually largely based off what a team does or does not do in free agency. Considering the two events are highly linked together, we decided to outline the potential destinations for Flynn. In order of the likelihood of Flynn signing with them.
- Washington Redskins – Was anyone really surprised when the quarterback duo of Rex Grossman and John Beck didn’t end up working out? The fact that Washington got to five wins (just enough to play their way out of Luck and RGIII, by the way) despite their quarterback play is somewhat of a miracle. These five wins really is a testament to the talent surrounding the quarterback. In comparison to some of Daniel Snyder’s other teams, this Redskins team wasn’t that bad of a team. Defensively, the Redskins have a front seven in place that could match-up with some of the best in the game. Enter Matt Flynn, and the Redskins would have a dangerous roster in 2012-13. Never a stranger to opening up the checkbook, I expect Daniel Snyder to make Flynn a hefty offer during free agency to be the ‘Skins quarterback of the future.
- Seattle Seahawks – Tarvaris Jackson proved a lot of people wrong, including myself, when he transformed into a decent starting quarterback this past season. However, there’s a connection between current Seahawks GM John Schneider and Flynn. Schneider worked in Green Bay’s front office when Flynn was drafted in 2008. The Seahawks could easily stick with Tarvaris Jackson, which is why I have them listed below the Redskins, but adding Flynn to this underrated Seahawks team could prove to be very intriguing for Schneider and Pete Carroll.
- Miami Dolphins – League rules dictate that the Miami Dolphins have to make an offer to every quarterback that has hit the market since 2000. OK — maybe not, but the Dolphins have swung and missed on too many quarterbacks since Dan Marino retired. If Flynn really wants to take his talents to South Beach, which really is one of the better situations for a quarterback, he will probably be able to get his wish. However, the ghost of A.J. Feeley could make the Dolphins reluctant to pull the trigger on another relatively unproven quarterback from an established quarterback factory. A lot will depend on who the Dolphins pick for their next head coach.
Those With Struggling Young QBs:
- New York Jets – One could make an argument for the Jets as the fourth team in ‘The Favorites’, or the first team in ‘Those With Struggling Young QBs’. I went with the latter based on Flynn’s lack of playing experience. The need for a quarterback is there, as Mark Sanchez has looked abysmal at times this season. However, Sanchez is still young and carries the salary cap figure of a top five pick. (By the way, the salary cap hit is the only way in which Sanchez resembles a top five pick, sorry Jet fans). Flynn isn’t exactly a sure thing in free agency. The worst case scenario for the Jets would be to sign Flynn, have him show that he’s more of a product of Green Bay’s offensive scheme than his actual skill, and then get stuck overpaying Flynn and Sanchez. Contrarily, making a push for Peyton Manning could be a more viable option for the Jets.
- Denver Broncos – Tebowmania was fun while it lasted. While I don’t exactly have inside information to back me up, John Elway cannot possibly be infatuated with the idea of Tim Tebow being his franchise quarterback. The pieces on defense are there, and, to the dismay of many Bronco fans, signing Matt Flynn could prove to be a shrewd move if he plays anything like he did last Sunday against Detroit.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – In his rookie year, Blaine Gabbert might have actually played his way out of being the quarterback of the future for the Jags. While the Jaguars signing Flynn is fairly unlikely, a new coach could step in and want to bring a quarterback with him. The Jags need to do something to shake up the offense, as MJD is a stud running back that seems to be stuck on a permanently bad team.
- Cleveland Browns – In the NFL, nobody is ever truly years away from playoff contention. However, the Browns are certainly close. Colt McCoy has looked shaky at times as a pro, and the Browns have to make a decision if they will stick by him. And here lies the reason why the Browns are so low on this list. If the Browns do opt to go in a different direction with their quarterback, they are in a position to land RGIII. Therefore, I’d expect either RGIII or Colt McCoy to be under center for the Browns, not Matt Flynn.
Unlikely, But Not Shocking:
- Kansas City Chiefs — Like the Dolphins and Jags, much of what the Chiefs do with the quarterback position will be predicated on how the head coaching situation is handled. Romeo Crennel could give Kyle Orton a chance to earn the starting spot next season. Additionally, despite being hurt last year, Matt Cassel is still a quarterback on the roster who has proven he could at least lead a team to the playoffs. However, that being said, having a new coach come in demanding a new quarterback would not seem too far-fetched. With Crennel looking like the favorite to land the job, I’d say the Chiefs are unlikely to land Flynn.
The Dark Horses:
- San Francisco 49ers – San Fran has had a phenomenal year, and Alex Smith looks vastly improved as a game manager. However, with the 49ers weapons in Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr., and Frank Gore out of the backfield, there’s no reason why that passing attack can’t be more explosion. Bringing in Flynn to replace Alex Smith after the 49ers first decent season in recent memory would be unprecedented, but the offense would probably improve as a result.
- Baltimore Ravens – Could the Harbaugh brothers find themselves fighting over Matt Flynn? Again, not likely. However, the Ravens have yet to lock up Joe Flacco as their franchise quarterback, so Flynn to the Ravens warrants at least some discussion. The Ravens offense has looked suspect at times this season, and not handing an absurd contract to Flacco before the season now seems justified. In all likelihood though, especially if the Ravens win at least one game in the playoffs, I wouldn’t expect Flynn to replace Flacco.